Recovery and Life in General

The Secret Keepers (reblog)

runningonsober:

Nearly all of us carry secrets and shame from our pasts. Here, Karen urges you to shine on a light on childhood sexual abuse and assault and any trauma from your past that may be keeping you from healing.
She writes: “But sometimes, we keep the secret because we’ve never truly acknowledged to ourselves the effect it has had on our lives. … The secret we’ve kept is filled with lies. Not just lies we were told but lies we believed about ourselves as a result of what happened to us. Those lies get so compounded that eventually, we stop questioning them. We just believe them. We believe we’re to blame, we believe we’re unclean, we believe we’re unworthy, we believe we’re broken, unlovable, shameful, untrustworthy. We believe that’s our true nature. And since we don’t want people to know what we really are, we hide, we lie and we numb and armor ourselves.”
Read this and then share it with others. You could be helping someone who really needs the help . . . maybe even yourself.
Thanks everyone, Christy

Originally posted on Mended Musings:

secrets

I’m going to do something I’ve never done before. I’m going to ask you to share this post. Reblog it, share it on Facebook, tweet it. Someone out there needs to hear this message today. Even if you think you don’t know anyone who has been abused. Even if you don’t read the entire post.

About a month ago I was asked by Dawn at WTF words, thoughts, feelings to contribute an essay for an anthology that she and Joyelle are creating for parents who are survivors of childhood sexual and physical abuse (learn more at https://www.facebook.com/TriggerPointsAnthology).

I submitted my essay but I also want to shine a bigger spotlight on this project because I fear that they may not get many submissions. Not because it’s not a worthy cause or because there aren’t enough people out there to contribute but because survivors of abuse are secret…

View original 1,196 more words

Advice Too Good to Not Share (on quitting drinking)

You know how sometimes you read a blog comment that blows you away? You think to yourself, Dude, this comment is awesome, I hope everyone reads this. But then you know that while lots of folks read comments, not everyone does, especially not if they’ve already read or commented on the post. And then you get kind of bummed out. But then you remember, hey, this is my blog and I can post (almost) anything I want; I can let my readers know how awesome the comment was, and then you’re happy. And then you realize, duh, you can even share the actual comments in a totally new post, and you get even happier.

You see where I’m going with this, right?

In last week’s post on “Advice to Someone Quitting Drinking,” I asked if you had any advice or suggestions for someone giving up alcohol. And your responses were–yes, I know I overuse this word–awesome. I hope you’ll to stop by to read all the comments, but in case you get busy or only read via email, I wanted to spotlight a few of them for you here. (A special thank you to Thirsty Still whose brilliant comment inspired this post. I encourage you to check out her blog; she’s one of my favorite sobriety bloggers.)

I’m still working on that upcoming “Tough Love/Angry” piece. It’s coming along. I’m trying to balance “raw and authentic” with “compassionate and mindfully–yet not overly–edited” without losing any of its original intent. (I may just say f-it and post the “shitty first draft” (want more Anne Lamott? and more?) with a disclaimer and be done with it if I feel I’m losing too much in the editing process.)

And . . . I’m seriously considering setting up a new page (like my about page or resources page) specifically for all of your shared advice and ideas. So if you have some advice on quitting drinking, feel free to add it here or on last week’s post.

***

From TS at Thirsty Still:

I also get angry around some of the oh so gentle relapse talk. Not that I want to scold someone who relapses. That would be pointless. But when it happens and there are no hard questions, then it starts to look like, “Oh well it’s hard and sometimes being sober just doesn’t happen.” But I think being sober is something you do. It never ‘just happens.’ When people relapse, often from just reading their posts you can see that it’s coming. They have changed their minds about being sober, or lost their commitment. I know last year, before I started drinking again, I had started to find all the “sober bullshit” really irritating. Instead I fell into “booze bullshit.” Having quit again, calling myself on my own bullshit is important. Recently I got bored with blogs and sober stuff again, but I have seen myself doing it and I thought: No! You keep doing this, or you go to AA or find some way to keep this sober gig going. Or you will drink again. And one thing I do not want to do is drink again.

So my advice is, first, get some help. Blogs can be helpful, but for me, that only worked when they helped me make a personal connection with a real person. Like [SL at] Sober Learning, I kept going sometimes because I’d said to someone else that I would, and they believed even if I didn’t. Belle’s 100 day challenge was a huge help to me, not because of her advice, but simply because she was there and emailed me back and she seemed to care, even when I wasn’t sure I did. And blogs were helpful when I jumped in and commented and made connections with people, who were helpful and kind when I needed that. I might still try AA. But whatever I do, I need people. If you’re quitting drinking, my guess is you’ll need people, too.

And my other advice is this: forget motivation. Motivation is a myth. Motivation is just a word that describes continuing hard effort. There is no ‘magic motivation juice’ that gives you the energy you need to do the hard work of quitting. Yes, you have to want to quit. But that’s all you need. That, and some help.

(full comment)

 ***

From SL at Sober Learning:

I then needed human contact, and got up enough nerve to go to AA. I love my home group. Not all of the AA stuff fits for me, but I like being with people who are the same as me. People who can’t drink, can’t moderate, and who are willing to work every day of their life to remain sober.

The blogging world, the numerous websites devoted to being sober, the Twitter world, the Facebook groups, all of it helps me to stay focused on my sobriety.

If someone had told me last year that I would be comfortable sober, and not want to jump out of my skin at the thought of NEVER drinking again, I would have told them they were nuts. It is hard work, and you really have to want it, but I believe that anyone can do it. Like running up a hill, put your head down, and lean into it.

[. . .]

Sober really isn’t a hard concept, it just means DON’T DRINK, you really have to want it though, you really, really do.

(full comment)

***

From Karen at Mended Musings:

There is a cost for every piece of armor we put on and for every numbing behavior we make a part of our lives. Alcohol, drugs, buying things you can’t afford, toxic relationships – you name it – there’s a cost to it all. The problem is that when we’re fully armored up and numbed, we lose our ability to think for ourselves. We lose our imagination, our creativity and our confidence. There’s even a cost for recovery because when we fully accept responsibility for our choices, thoughts and behaviors, we lose the comfort of believing that a substance or thing can make our lives better. Personally, I think the cost is worth it. I drink occasionally but I needed to stop completely for almost 3 years in order to even be able to recognize what I needed to heal. No one, whether they’re an alcoholic or not, can see clearly if they’re constantly numb and armored.

If there’s a voice in your head that tells you to stop drinking, listen to it. It’s the only voice you can trust and it will never, ever go away until you listen to it or you’re dead. Don’t worry about tomorrow or forever because when you learn to listen to what your heart tells you, it tells you more and more of what you need to hear.

(full comment)

***

From Liz at Living With Autism:

For me, quitting involved changing ALL my routines; I had to create an entirely different life for myself to avoid the associations. That’s probably the key thing I did. It was tough, especially with an autistic son who loves routine. But I think that was part of my problem – like Dylan I had routines to manage anxiety but mine were way more damaging than his.

(full comment)

***

From Josie at The Miracle is Around the Corner:

Here’s my best piece of advice for the person who is starting on day 1 of sobriety: forget any timelines beyond the very day you are living. Can you make it through the rest of this very day without picking up a drink? If not, why not? What people, places, or things are preventing this? Then solve those problems, and don’t drink. Go to bed, wake up, and repeat this process, and I promise you, it will get easier over time.

(full comment)

***

Thank you to everyone who took the time to comment last week (read all the comments). Feel free to politely add your own suggestions or experiences below. Hopefully I’ll get the new “advice” page up by the end of this month and before the holiday season kicks into full swing. -christy

* Note: Although AA is mentioned, RoS does not endorse one recovery program or process over another. I believe there is no single right or wrong program, as long as it works for you. Other programs include (but are not limited to) SMART Recovery, WFS, LifeRing, SOS, and EATS: Eat ALL the Sugar (ok, so I made that last one up). Feel free to share what worked for you in the comments. If you’re looking for help, check out my resources page.

 

On Tough Love and Advice to Those Wanting to Quit Drinking

Once in a blue moon, I’ll get an email from someone who is thinking about giving up alcohol. Most times they just say “thank you for your blog,” but sometimes they actually ask for help or advice. I received one such email this weekend, and it came at a very interesting time.

See, I’ve had a “tough love” type of post in my drafts forever. Well, since last November, and a year is a pretty long time to be mulling over a blog post. When I say “tough love” I guess I mean it’s more of a rant; I’d seen a lot of people slip, and everyone was so sweet and lovey and nobody was asking the tough questions and denial was everywhere and it just made me angry. But then I felt bad about feeling angry. I felt like I must be a mean cruel-hearted bitch to even be having those feelings. So I sat on the post. For a year.

I finally resurrected that post last week in the midst of insomnia after a friend mentioned she felt “a responsibility to make sobriety look good.” My first thought was, why? Why on the earth would someone put that pressure on themselves? And in doing so, are they selling a false bill of goods? Because some days sobriety looks anything but good.

Then I started thinking about all the other things we may “say” and if those things are totally honest, and then I thought about the things we don’t say, and I wondered why we didn’t say them (like my feelings of anger . . . surely I’m not the only person who has ever felt that way? But no one ever writes about that side. Why not? Fear of coming across like a mean cruel-hearted bitch?)

The post itself turned into a long-winded ramble-fest on sobriety’s ugly truths, or at least my thoughts on them. I sent it to a couple of friends, and they both said, in essence, “say what you want to say, it’ll be fine.” Which I took as, they hate it. So back in the draft folder it went.

Until I got an email this weekend asking for advice. I was tired, cranky, and sick (probably from catching a bug on the plane ride back from my mom’s dad’s). Since I figured she found me via my raw, f-bomb loaded, Bukowski-inspired “So You Want to Quit Drinking” piece, I didn’t hold much back in my response to her. I was excessively direct and honest. And I figured later that I probably scared her away.

But I didn’t.

Instead, she replied back. She was appreciative of my response, and she said that I was right. She said she was going to quit drinking.

And then I decided two things: 1) that I would again resurrect that blog post, and say what I wanted to say, even if it hurt some feelings. And that 2) with her permission, I would share the emails I sent my new friend, in hopes they may help someone else out there. She wholeheartedly agreed, saying that if they helped just one person out there, it would be worth it.

So here they are… her notes are paraphrased for the sake of privacy. My notes are mostly verbatim, as are any typos (again: insomnia, sick, and iPhone).

She and I both hope they help you.

***

Hi Christy, I found you as I searched the internet for help and advice; I feel I was meant to find you. I’ve been with my husband since high school, and we have three children together. My husband drinks nearly every day, and can be quite controlling. Me, I’m totally out of control when I drink. I drove drunk last night to buy a bottle of wine. I’m so unhappy in my marriage and I feel I have no one to talk to. It’s a living nightmare, I feel like my life is crumbling around me. Any advice, greatly appreciated. –  Thanks, “Seeking” (name changed)

*

Hi S, sounds like things are pretty tough right now. So sorry. I know that nobody will quit drinking until they’re ready to quit. You can’t worry about your husband, you just have to worry about you. If you are driving drunk, you have got to cut that shit out right away. 1) you get caught, they take your license away and down the line they’ll take your kids too. 2) you could kill someone, someone else’s kid. Could you live with that?

Plus I mean your kids deserve their mom to be present and sober. Mine died 3 years ago and I miss her every day. You would probably kill for your kids…so kill your demons. When you drink, you feed them. You make them stronger. You give them control. So stop.

It’s not easy, I know. Especially if you are physically addicted to alcohol. If you are, you may need medical help because you will go through withdrawal. There are meds that will help make it easier to manage.

There are good resources out there–I have a blog roll. Belle at Tired of Thinking About Drinking helps a lot of newly sober. She can pair you up with a sober pen pal. And on my resources page, there’s a few phone numbers and links for help. I’d try an AA meeting. The face to face support is so important. Its a good place to start and they have them globally.

Don’t quit on yourself. Don’t quit on your kids. Don’t quit on your life.

You can do this.
-Christy

*

Thank you so much for replying, what you said is so true. I feel sick to my stomach from what I did. Drinking has made me someone else I don’t recognize anymore. I want to be me again. I’m going to see if I can get a sober pen pal. This is the first day of me doing a u-turn and heading back down the right road. Thank you so much, S

*

You are so welcome. I know how hard it is. Alcohol saw me through a lot of difficulties in my life, it was my best friend for a while. But then it turned on me, and like you said, it turned me into someone I didn’t know or like. I too got very angry when I drank, like it was the only time it could come out.

But in time you learn better ways to manage anger. You get better at saying what you mean. You realize that life is so short, you may as well just be honest with others.

Belle does what she calls the 100 day challenge. Try that. Stop drinking for 100 days and decide then. I know I personally had to remove alcohol forever from my life, had to remove it as an option, but that forever word can be scary. So try 100 days to start. Go from there.

Maybe this week I’ll do a short post on the topic. Would you be okay if I mention your email? I would just generalize it and would not mention your name, but I would include my reply to you. Maybe it could help some others, maybe someone will offer suggestions. Figured I would ask if that was okay, again your privacy will not be violated.

I’m glad it feels different for you! I think when it’s time, we just know.

Starve your inner demons. Slay the dragon.

If you pray, try that. Or maybe just pretend and talk to the universe. It’s surprising how much that seems to help.

Wishing you all the best,
Stay in touch,
Christy

*

Hi Christy, Of course you can mention what ever you like. If it helps even just one person then it’s so worth it!

***

I hope this does help someone; thank you S for inspiring this post.

What advice or words of wisdom would you offer to someone who was thinking about quitting drinking? (You can share as an ex-drinker, a current drinker, or even as an affected family member; all are welcome.) Is there a program or a book or a blog that helped you? Anything you wish someone would have told you? Feel free to share, politely please. And meanwhile I’ll get to work on that other blog post. -christy

.

Autumn, Running and Rambling

When friends start checking-in with me with random “Send up a flare every now and then why dontcha’?” and “Hey girl, just checkin’ on you” and “Here’s a picture of some flowers from my garden, just because I thought you may need them” (Michelle is just the sweetest, I swear) type of messages, I start to think that maybe I should poke my head out of my hidey-hole cave to say, “I’m here! I’m alive! I’m sober!”

(And, wow, how is that for a long sentence?)

I just posted, what, a couple of weeks ago? But maybe y’all are picking up on some vibes I’m sending out without my even knowing I’m sending them out. I mean, just because I totally change the theme around here from a colorful header to a stark black and white theme, remove a few posts, and go MIA from commenting, doesn’t mean I’m isolating and withdrawing into existential angst again, does it?

Or wait. Maybe it does.

I think it has something to do with the change of seasons. Especially Autumn. Spring too, I realize, but Spring usually finds me depressed and longing; Autumn turns me inward–like the petals of a sunflower folding into its self–and more introspective. Autumn reminds me that everything is transitory, that everything in nature has a life-span. Falling leaves, dormant plants, less daylight. Things grow cooler, wispier, and I realize that I do too.

As a creature of extremes–remember, moderation is not my strong suit–I think it’s these “in-between seasons” that throw me off. Give me the freezing temps and the windy, desolate ice storms of Winter, or give me the blazing sun hot enough to fry an egg on the hood of your car, flowers in full bloom, sunburns and heat stroke of Summer. I want my seasons to take a stand. All or nothing, baby. Just not this in-between, ho-humness of a season that can’t make up its mind that leaves me trapped in my own head thinking of the past or the future, but not of the present.

But there’s a good thing about being trapped in your head. You spend a lot of time thinking. My creativity levels are off the charts; I see poems everywhere, and characters, and plot lines, and I see the passing of time . . . so many things slipping through the hourglass. I see reinvention and rewrites and renewal. I see second chances. My head is not a bad place to be these days, as opposed to the past when it was dark and dismal and suffocating. I’m in a good place. It feels strange to say that out loud, but it’s true.

There are some really awesome things going on for me . . . and I want to tell you all about them. And I will, in time. There are also some incredibly scary things going on too. Changes and things I can’t control and some stories that aren’t mine to tell. And I know that’s incredibly cryptic, I’m sorry–I hate when people are purposefully cryptic, but just know that while they’re scary, I’m not scared. And know that the awesome far outweighs the scary right now.

But because I feel bad about being cryptic, and because you’ve read this far . . . I’ll share one of the awesome things.

I’m running again. Like seriously running again. I’ve been off and on all year, but I have my eye on a May marathon, a special and sentimental one, so I don’t want to go into it half-assed or unprepared. I’m literally starting over from scratch. When I started training a few weeks ago, I could barely run five minutes without tiring. I’m up to 20-minute running segments now, but nowhere near the five hours (plus?) I’ll be running in May. It’s been humbling, extremely humbling. And you better believe that monkey-mind was chattering non-stop when I started, but then I remember that I did it before–I can do it again.

I can’t compare myself though to who I was a couple of years ago. She was filled with enthusiasm and excitement and a bit of arrogance too. I guess it was sobriety’s pink cloud equivalent. After the marathon, I grew a bit complacent in my running, aimless without a goal, and ran less and less. Ha! I was setting myself up for total running relapse . . . It was bound to happen. I used life and stress and grief as excuses to stop running; the same excuses I used to make for drinking. Instead of falling off the wagon, I had fallen off the treadmill.

When I started back running, in essence, I was at Day Zero. I still have that enthusiasm and excitement. I still feel a bit arrogant when I jump from a ten-minute running segment to a fifteen-minute segment. But I’m also remembering, rediscovering, how fun it was just to run and sweat and feel exhausted at the end of a run. And the music! Oh how I’ve missed just blasting the tunes and zoning out. What’s new this time? Spotify. Hello? Why did no one tell me about Spotify before? I’m in running playlist nirvana! The endorphins are really nice too. I highly recommend them.

Another awesome thing? The movie The Equalizer. I highly recommend it too. In one of my favorite scenes:

“I’m going to miss your stories,” one of the characters says.

“You have your own stories now,” Denzel’s character replied.

Thanks for being here, thanks for reading, and thanks for caring. I’m grateful for you. And I’ll see you soon. I promise.

So many stories of where I’ve been and how I got to where I am.
But these stories don’t mean anything
When you’ve got no one to tell them to . . .

 

Are you running? Do you like Autumn or Spring, or do you prefer Winter or Summer? Feeling creative lately? Seen any good movies? How in the world are you? 

So You Want to Quit Drinking

(the following poem contains profanity and raw imagery. it is not intended for young, nor sensitive, eyes. it is inspired by several bukowski pieces, each linked to in the footer. while bukowski, to my knowledge, never sobered up, there are few who understood alcohol’s powers as well as he did. I’d like to think he had both bluebird and kraken in his heart, and would not hesitate to let you borrow either, or both, though he’d probably ask you for a six-pack in payment. hey, we all have our demons, baby. if you need help, get some help. don’t let them win. you’re worth saving.)

***

so you want to quit drinking

after bukowski

so you want to quit drinking
give up the bottle
clean up
dry up
grow up

so you’re finally ready
to quit waking up
in strange places
with spit
on your face
vomit
in your hair
glass
in your hands
asphalt
in your knees

oh I bet you really made an
ass of yourself
this time.
did you fuck up
royally?
fall off the wagon?
fall off your bar stool?
fall off the karaoke stage?

did you flash the bartender
kiss a woman
grope a man?
did you fuck a stranger
flip a cop the bird
throw up on a neighbor’s lawn?
did you scream at your mother
slap your kid
kick your cat?
did you drunk dial your ex
walk out on the tab
crash your best friend’s car?
did you lose your wallet
your keys
your dog
your mind?
did you pick up a gun or a razor
a bottle of pills
a pen to write your last goodbyes?

no?
none of that?
well maybe it didn’t happen.
not like that.
or
maybe it did.
or maybe it will
next time.
how
the hell do you
know?

ah.
so that’s why you’re
ready
to
quit
drinking.
you’re tired
of no longer being in
control of your actions.
tired
of being a slave
to the demons in your head.
tired
of running from yourself
only to find out you
cannot
ever
out
run
yourself.

you can lose yourself
oh sure.
you can go mad,
give in,
give up.
but why would you want
to do that?

why let them win?

they
will, you know,
if you let them.
the demons in your head.
the fat
pasty
booze execs
their
slick suits
and
slick hair
and
slicker words.
the smug
housewives
sipping their
wine slushies
whispering
over their
pee-no-gree
gossiping about
your
demise.
“oh poor dear.
she was so fragile.
bless her heart.
what will become of the children?”

fuck ‘em.

if
you give in,
they win.
and there’s always
going to be a
they.

fuck ‘em all.

your
demons?
they live in
the past, babe,
this is the now
the n. o. w.
your demons aren’t here
they’re way back there.

why
go
back?

all
those nights,
all
those bottles,
all
those black-outs and hangovers,
all
those times you wanted to die?

newsflash, baby.

you’re
still
here.

tougher.
stronger.
badder.

somehow you’ve had more
than your share of second
chances.

you should be dead.
I don’t know why
you’ve been spared.
like me,
you’ve survived
a thousand deaths.
another
laughing
heart,
another
modern
Lazarus,
another
marvelous
god.

maybe those gods got plans
for you baby.
maybe it’s
one big cosmic
horse race in the sky.
maybe this is your race to lose
baby.

you really are marvelous you know
the gods wait to delight in you
maybe they like you
maybe you’re entertaining
maybe you make them laugh
or maybe they just feel sorry for you
laying on the bathroom floor
beside that other god.
maybe you remind them of themselves
the gods were young and crazy once too
dancing on tables and flashing strangers
gods gone wild
before they too
cleaned up
dried up
grew up

oh
how the gods love fools and drunks
but honey you don’t have to be a drunk
you can just be a fool
or
even better
be the one who fools them all
they’ll never see you coming.

oh
there will be days you want
to fall back.
there’s no help for that.
but don’t fall.
save those feelings
send them to that space
that place in the heart
that will never be filled.

we can meet in that space.
and
instead of waiting
instead of drinking
we will release the krakens.

what?
you thought I really had a
bluebird in my heart?
no baby,
I have a fucking kraken in mine.
and so do you.
instead of drinking
we’ll release the krakens
and laugh in delight
and smoke our cigars
and we will make it through
this day.

so
you really want to quit drinking?

put down the bottle.
do not pick it up again.
ever.

pick up the pen.
do not put it down again.
ever.

and
when they come calling,
which they will
for a while,
you know what to do.
let them keep their
bluebirds -
you
release your kraken,
baby.

nobody
can save you but yourself
,
true.
but a kraken never hurt either.

now
off you go baby . . .
remember,
bottle, no.
pen, yes.
and write write write.
write it all
let it come out of
your soul like a rocket

c’mon baby, you want to quit drinking?
ain’t nothing to it but to
do it!
do it!

then get up tomorrow
and do it again.
then the next
and the next
and the next day again.

but you have to start
some day.
how about today?
this day,
this
one day.
that’s all there is.
you can’t go backward.
you can’t go forward.
n. o. w. is what you got.
it may not be much,
today,
but it’s enough.

there is no other way.

and there never was.

 

~~~

Inspired in part by Bukowski’s:
So You Want to Be a Writer,” “Another Comeback,” “The Laughing Heart,” “No Help For That,” “The Bluebird,” “Nobody But You.”